By Debra Braun, Education Director
(Reprinted from the March 2009 issue of Sidewalk Counseling News, published by Pro-Life Action Ministries).
I have been sidewalk counseling for 26 years. (Some of you have been out on the sidewalks longer than that so I claim no record!) Do I sometimes get tired and discouraged? Yes. Do I ever regret going out to try to save lives? Never!
Following are some suggestions on overcoming the discouragement that sometimes occurs as we participate in this vital ministry. If you have any other suggestions that have helped you and that you would like to share in an upcoming issue of this newsletter, please write or e-mail me.
As a sidewalk counselor, you are in the midst of an intense spiritual battle between good and evil, between truth and falsehood, between life and death. Remaining in prayer while you are sidewalk counseling will give you strength and will also help you to remain calm and in control, no matter what happens during your time outside the abortion center. If it happens to be a particularly discouraging day or we haven’t seen a baby saved in awhile, I will sometimes ask God specifically to please bless us with something good. It may not be a woman changing her mind, but often something good does happen. Even a supportive passerby or the sun coming out on a gloomy day can lift my spirit.
REMEMBER THE BABIES YOU’VE HELPED SAVE AND THE JOY YOU’VE BROUGHT TO THEIR FAMILIES
This is an especially helpful tactic on those cold, dark winter mornings as I’m preparing to go out! You are among the relatively few who have actually had the very rewarding experience of helping to save a human life. You know that as one person, you can’t change the whole world, but you can change the world for (at least) two people! Even if you are aware of being instrumental in the saving of “only” one life in all your years of sidewalk counseling, that one life is of infinite value, made in the image and likeness of God.
REALIZE THAT MORE BABIES ARE BEING SAVED THAN YOU SEE
I believe God allows us to see a glimpse of what He sees to encourage us to keep going out, but only He knows the total number of lives saved through our sidewalk counseling. Sometimes we hear years later of a baby saved because of our presence, our words or our literature. We didn’t know at the time because the woman left without telling us, we were already gone when she left or she drove by without ever going in in the first place.
DON’T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF
If you’re like me, you will sometimes say stupid or uncharitable things or miss an opportunity to do good. In those situations, ask God to forgive you, pray in particular for that woman and baby asking God to cover for your inadequacies, and ask Him to help you do better in the future.
ENCOURAGE AND SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER
Talk about your sidewalk counseling successes and frustrations with other sidewalk counselors or supportive friends and family members. This is especially important if you sometimes sidewalk counsel alone. If possible from time to time, enjoy the company of your fellow sidewalk counselors in social situations away from the abortion centers.
KNOW THAT YOU ARE DOING GOOD
There may be many days that none of the abortion clients change their minds at the abortion center where you are sidewalk counseling. However, this does NOT mean that you wasted your time in going out. Even if the mother rejects your help and the child is killed, your presence and prayers are a powerful witness to the child’s humanity. No one should die alone and unloved.
Perhaps your presence will motivate the woman (or her companions) to repent soon after the abortion. Perhaps a woman will remember the help you offered and decide not to abort a future pregnancy (this has happened). Perhaps a passerby who took your literature will seek post-abortion healing or will pass along your brochures and save a life.
Perhaps a person driving by will be motivated to get involved in the pro-life movement. Perhaps none of these things will happen on a particular day. But you will have been obedient to God and that is a very good thing. “Rescue those who are being dragged to death, and from those tottering to execution withdraw not.
If you say, “I know not this man!” does not He who tests hearts perceive it? He who guards your life knows it, and He will repay each one according to his deeds.” (Proverbs 24:11-12)
I believe that Jesus would have spent time sidewalk counseling if abortion centers had existed in Galilee when He walked the earth. I also think He would have been quite successful in saving lives. But, because of sin, some abortion clients would have rejected even Him. Despite the many rejections we receive from clients, abortion workers and passersby, we are called to be His faithful presence outside the abortion centers in today’s world. May God continue to give you the grace and strength to persevere!
Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve; to give and not count the cost; to fight and not heed the wounds; to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will. —Ignatius of Loyola